By Ravin Singh
The Organisation of American States (OAS), of which Guyana is a member, on Thursday adopted a resolution not to recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro who took an oath-of-office Thursday to serve his second term as Venezuela’s President.
The resolution was presented by Colombia, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, the United States, Paraguay and Peru, to the Permanent Council. The votes, which were 19 in favour, eight abstentions and six against, were taken in Washington.
The 19 votes in favour, which approved the resolution, came from Argentina, Bahamas, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica, Ecuador, United States, Guatemala, Guyana, Haiti, Honduras, Jamaica, Panama, Paraguay, Peru, Dominican Republic, and St. Lucia.
The six countries that voted against the resolution were: Bolivia, Dominica, Nicaragua, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Suriname, and Venezuela. The eight that abstained were: Mexico, St. Kitts and Nevis, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay, Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, Belize, and El Salvador. Grenada was absent.
According to the OAS, Venezuela’s Ambassador Samuel Moncada described the measure adopted as “a hostile act… against the will of our nation.”
The Socialist Maduro will serve his second six-year term, amid international condemnation and calls for him to step down. Global leaders contend that his re-election was not in keeping with democratic principles after they accused him of rigging the recently-held elections.
However, the Presidents of Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua all attended Maduro’s inauguration as a sign of support for the Socialist regime.
The first resolve of the resolution was: “To not recognize the legitimacy of Nicolas Maduro’s new term as of the 10th of January of 2019”.
It also called for new Presidential elections with “all necessary guarantees of a free, fair, transparent, and legitimate process” to be held at an early date attended by international observers.
Further, it sought to urge the Venezuelan regime to allow the immediate entry of humanitarian aid to its people, and for the unconditional release of all political prisoners being held by Maduro.
Venezuela’s economy was crippled by rising inflation and plummeting oil prices leading up to 2014. This triggered socio-political unrest which sent the country into a crisis.
Hyperinflation, increasing scarcity of goods and services and growing authoritarianism by the Maduro regime fueled mass migration.
Since 2014, the United Nations (UN) estimates that more than two million Venezuelans have fled their home country.
Moreover, in 2015, Maduro renewed Venezuela’s claim for Essequibo – a geographic area which makes up about five-eights of Guyana. The decree by Maduro came at a time when Guyana discovered oil just offshore its Essequibo coast. Maduro subsequently laid claims to those waters.
Essequibo was awarded to Guyana in an 1899 tribunal which Venezuela participated in, and accepted the outcome of.
Since the renewed claims, the UN initiated its Good Officers process to settle the controversy, but this failed. Guyana then called for a legal settlement of the controversy, via the International Court of Justice, at Hague.
While Guyana has submitted its case to the legal institution, Venezuela has failed to represent itself and present its case.
Just recently, Guyana’s Foreign Minister Carl Greenidge reported to the National Assembly that on December 22, the Venezuelan Navy intercepted a licensed oil exploratory vessel in Guyana’s waters.
Minister Greenidge revealed further that: “a reckless attempt was made by the Venezuelans to land a helicopter on the deck of one of them [vessels] – the Ramform Tethys.”
The exploratory vessel had a total of 70 crew members on board.